On Thursday, November 24th, URBAN held its Annual Year-End Reception, where we presented the results of this years volunteer surveys of streams and marshes in Hamilton, officially recognized our volunteers, and hosted a guest speaker. The event was a huge success! There was lots of enthusiasm from our volunteers, partners, and new interested citizens, and volunteers walked out with an URBAN t-shirt to show off. This year our guest speaker was David Miller, former mayor of Toronto. David gave an inspiring talk entitled: “We Can Fight Climate Change and Create Jobs- Heres How”, which ignited thought-provoking questions from the audience and a great discussion. Thank you to everyone who helped in any way with the event, and to all those that took the time to come and enjoy the evening! We look forward to seeing you next year!
On July 9th, URBAN held its first Volunteer Aquatic Plant Survey with fantastic results! Interested individuals showed up to learn more about identifying aquatic vegetation in wetlands. They donated their time to learn about the VAPS protocol and the different identification techniques used with the help of the VAPS Guidebook, which features photos and descriptions of plants most often found in Great Lakes wetlands. By identifying the various species of aquatic plants in a wetland, which are related to the water quality, we can infer the health of the wetland.
The volunteers were led to Cootes Paradise where they were taught how to perform a correct VAPS for a wetland, and given tips on how to identify species. After the expedition the workshop concluded and the volunteers were free to ask any questions and sign up for a wetland to survey this summer. Below are some photos from the workshop!
This past spring URBAN conducted bird surveys with a group of volunteers following a widely used and well accepted method designed by Bird Studies Canada–the Marsh Monitoring Program protocol. Volunteers were asked to train for two sampling events as they would train for sampling an assigned MMP route and met with trained individuals to conduct the surveys together for approximately three hours. CDs with bird calls and training kits were given as sources to study from to prepare for the survey.
Many studies have been conducted looking at volunteer data in numerous systems and organisms, though few studies have investigated whether the expertise of an individual has an effect on marsh bird survey results. The main goal of the study was to determine the effect of expertise on survey results of volunteers conducting MMP bird surveys in Southern Ontario. URBAN was interested in seeing whether any differences exist in identifying particular species and the abundance of specific species amongst volunteers of varying levels of skill. Ability rankings were determined using visual and aural tests, and a second round of tests were given to see if training has an effect on their score. Finally, volunteers were asked to fill out questionnaires which will help the MMP to refine its protocols, training packages and future workshops. Results are currently being processed and reviewed. We hope to complete the entire study by December 2011.
A special thank you to all the volunteers!